I was very lethargic tonight and as a team we've just got to do better of fighting through that and that will help our offense. —Jazz guard Rodney Hood
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a new year. A new month. A fresh start.
But the Utah Jazz are 0-1 in 2018.
After closing out 2017 with a strong win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday, the same old problems carried over into Wednesday as the Jazz fell to the New Orleans Pelicans 108-98.
The Jazz had won five straight against New Orleans.
“We didn’t hit shots, but they outplayed us,” said Jazz guard Rodney Hood, who scored two points on 1-for-10 shooting. “They played real physical all night, which wore down on us. You just can’t play so lethargic.
“I was very lethargic tonight and as a team we’ve just got to do better of fighting through that and that will help our offense.”
The Jazz locker room was speechless after the latest loss, with Joe Ingles refusing to speak to media. Others were also slow to address reporters with the latest loss understandably stinging being the competitors that they are.
Utah connected on just 7 of 32 of their 3-point attempts while allowing 17 second-chance points to their four.
“They made good plays,” said Jazz forward Derrick Favors, who ended with 11 points and nine rebounds. “They got me out the paint. That’s where they got those offensive rebounds. There are times you just have to do better.”
New Orleans connected on 46.7 percent of its 3s and shot 50 percent from the field with Anthony Davis going off for 29 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Jrue Holliday also finished with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists while DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points and 11 boards but made five fouls and committed four turnovers.
“We owe these guys from last time,” Davis said. “I didn’t get to play down the stretch last game (against Utah) because of the injury but I just wanted to come and get this win.
“We lost two in a row and we just wanted to make sure that we could come out and start this road trip good,” he added. “We got teams gaining on us for the eighth spot, so we got to create a lead for ourselves, create some separation.”
While the defense lacked, Joe Johnson was a spark off the bench offensively with a season-high 20 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes. “Iso Joe” went 2-for-32 for 3 from beyond the arc and hit 9 of his 12 attempts as he continues to regain his rhythm after missing 21 games with right wrist tendon instability.
“We played hard, we fought hard, just couldn’t come up with the stops down the stretch,” Johnson said.
Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell went off for a career-high 41 points in Utah’s last win against the Pelicans on Dec. 1 and posted 24 points in the rematch. He was winded after the game, though, as the Pelicans were way tougher. Mitchell would’ve liked to see more assertiveness and better focus for the entire 48 minutes from his squad.
“I wish I would’ve been able to play better on the defensive end,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s the biggest thing I’m upset with right now.”
Not everything went wrong for the Jazz, though, as the bench outscored the Pelicans 37-18. Utah also outpointed New Orleans in the paint 56-44, but the second-chance points and inability to defend the 3-pointer is what led to Utah’s 11th loss in its last 14 games.
The Jazz (16-22) will hit the road to face the Denver Nuggets on Friday, Jan. 5.
“It’s always good to look at the tape but they had been shooting the ball very well,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We weren’t aggressive enough. I don’t think they felt us in the first half on some of the 3s.
“When you see a team shoot 50 percent from the 3-point line, roughly, you’ve got to do a better job.”